Friday, June 17, 2011

Youth's Companion: Camp Life of the Soldier

From the Youth's Companion of January 23, 1862

A correspondent of the Sunday School Gazette gives the following description of the camp life of our soldiers now stationed on the Potomac. Such  a life is no boy's play:

 The first thing done, when a regiment reaches camp ground, is to pitch the tents. These are arranged in lines as regular as the streets of a city, and sometimes camp streets receive names like the streets of a city. The tents are made of stout canvas, and are of different sizes, some being round, others square, and others oblong.

 The largest tents are used to accommodate the soldiers, and will hold ten, fifteen, or twenty, who use this one place for parlor, bedroom, sitting and dining-room. The smaller tents belong to officers, three of whom sometimes chum together, sometimes two only, and again but one using the tent. Old-bachelor-like, I have a tent all to myself, with nothing to  disturb my slumbers or interfere with my comfort, but noise outside. 


The tents, inside, are furnished in various ways, according to the taste, means or rank of the occupant. Some have boarded floors with a carpet, table, comfortable chairs, pictures, books, and a soft, easy bed, while others have only the ground covered with straw or the branches of trees, and little or no furniture. In going to war, soldiers are allowed to have only what they can carry in knapsacks on their backs, but officers can take trunks, and supply themselves with quite a number of home comforts.


After the tents are pitched, and things all arranged, cooks, wagoners, commissaries, and other company-helpers are chosen from each company, the company consisting of one hundred men, and fireplaces or ovens are built in the ground, or of stone or brick, above ground; rude eating-booths, sheltered by boughs of trees, are put up, and the regiment is prepared to begin military life in earnest. The food supplied by government is wholesome and abundant, and the clothing amply sufficient for all reasonable wants; but, sometimes, owing to the rascality of contractors, or the carelessness of the men themselves, the food gets injured, the clothing does very poor service, and suffering follows.

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